SkyWater Launches Apprenticeship Program to Support Employee Career Growth and Domestic Semiconductor Workforce Development

  • Program Developed in Partnership With National Institute of Innovation and Technology and Hennepin Technical College

SkyWater Technology, the trusted technology realization partner, announced the launch of an apprenticeship program at its Bloomington, Minnesota facility, designed with a combination of on-the-job training and formal education, and based on industry and academic-approved curriculum through Hennepin Technical College. In partnership with the National Institute of Innovation and Technology (NIIT) under its Growing Apprenticeships in Nanotechnology and Semiconductors (“GAINS”) program, SkyWater created its apprenticeship program which is initially focused on developing equipment maintenance technician talent to co-create their careers.

“Registered apprenticeships are key to workforce development by providing employees with instruction and on-the-job training to meet the needs of their companies”

The NIIT’s GAINS program is a key component of its comprehensive approach to developing the talent pipeline for the semiconductor industry by connecting industry, talent and education to ensure skilled workers for the electronics manufacturing industry. By attracting students and job seekers to careers in semiconductor manufacturing, the NIIT helps to ensure the skilled workforce required to sustain and grow the electronics manufacturing industry.

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The first group of existing SkyWater employees started a two-year program in January 2022. SkyWater employs over 600 people with most of the jobs in Minnesota. The company, which has its headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota and an advanced packaging facility in Kissimmee, Florida, continues to experience significant growth due to increased industry demand. SkyWater anticipates extending the equipment maintenance technician apprenticeship program to its Florida facility.

“There has never been a more important time to ensure a skilled workforce domestically,” said Thomas Sonderman, SkyWater president and CEO. “The apprenticeship program will be key to co-creating our employees’ careers and meeting the growing needs of the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Equipment maintenance technicians are critical to our success — their efforts are essential to maintaining our continuous production schedules while minimizing safety risks and constantly enhancing the effectiveness of our valuable manufacturing equipment.”

Designed to be scaled to meet industry demand for technicians, SkyWater’s apprenticeship program leverages the NIIT’s Unified Competency Model (UCM) which was formed with industry input as a new skills standard and is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (USDOL-ETA).

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“Registered apprenticeships are key to workforce development by providing employees with instruction and on-the-job training to meet the needs of their companies,” said Leslie Philmon, senior field representative, Apprenticeship Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. “We are pleased that SkyWater has registered their program with the Labor Department and we are excited for the many apprentices who are advancing their skills and contributing to the growth of the semiconductor industry here in Minnesota.”

Hennepin Technical College will offer the apprenticeship program courses, and all program tuition and fees will be paid directly by SkyWater. The course curriculum supports the development of skills required by the electronics industry and offers several industry certifications.

“We are excited to be SkyWater’s partner in this program which is key to assuring a pipeline of highly skilled workers in a time when attracting them is difficult due to growing industry demand,” said Jeff Thorstad, instructor at Hennepin Technical College. “Hennepin Tech’s participation in the NIIT Competency Alignment Program has ensured our courses are aligned with industry requirements. Participants in the program receive college credits which not only advance their careers but strengthen the semiconductor industry workforce as well.”

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